While the Florida State Marching Band Championships is a far cry from the baseball games typically held at Tropicana Field, Springstead High School still managed to hit one out of the park.
For the first time in the school's — and the school district's — history, students not only managed to capture first place in Saturday's state competition, but did so while far outscoring all other 2A schools in categories of Best music, Best Visual and Best General Effects.
Springstead's band director Rick Dasher said students and parents alike took to the field cheering following the announcement that the school won the state title. Principal Susan Duval was also among the spectators to join in on the celebration, congratulating students and holding the 6-foot-tall banner awarded to the school.
"Everyone was ecstatic, elated. (Duval) was right there with them swooping and hollering with the kids," Dasher said. "Everyone was really proud of the kids."
Sprinstead senior Amanda Collins, who was acting drum major along with junior Joey Weissman, said this year's band came together like no other in years past, performing a series of songs under the theme of "Hot Pursuit," with a mix of jazz-oriented songs.
"I think this year's show had its own form of energy and cohesiveness of its members," Collins said. "There were no bad attitudes — we just worked together so easily."
Dasher said another factor was use of the band's strong trumpet players.
But also throughout the year, he said, students were helping to add new ideas to the performance so that in the end, it took on a life of its own.
"The kids really took ownership of it — we kept making changes and adding things along the way," Dasher said. "It was a sort of perfect storm."
Weissman said he's especially proud of the band after having watched the group not make finals his freshman year to then take third place last year and finally secure a first-place victory.
Now after having experienced what it's like to be ranked the best in the state, the hard part will be repeating the performance next year.
"This year was pretty much the perfect example of how a marching band is supposed to work," Weissman said. "Now we'll just have to cross our fingers and hope next year goes just as well."